CENTREVILLE - The Queen Anne's County Planning Commission approved two new text amendments regarding special events which will be sent to the county commissioners for approval.
Text Amendment 12-18 would allow special events to occur in the Agricultural and Countryside districts under specific guidelines. The commission has defined a special event as a "personal or business social engagement or activities conducted at a bed-and-breakfast, single family residence, or on a farm where guests assemble for parties, weddings, reunions, birthday celebrations, or similar uses for compensation, during which food and beverages may be served to guests and music and other entertainment is provided to guests."
A special event as defined by the commission does not include places of worship.
The commission decided that several requirements must be met in order for a special event to be held on one of the three types of properties.
The event must comply with all applicable state and local laws, be located on a parcel of land at least 20 acres in area, be at least 250 feet from the nearest residence on adjacent property, have on-site parking, have a noise level that does not exceed 65 decibels level [-] the sound level of a normal conversation from three feet away [-] as measured from adjacent properties or residences and the number of guest allowed can not exceed the amount set by the health department and fire marshal.
Additional criteria to be set by the Board of Appeals will include how many events can be held in a year and what times the event can take place.
The second text amendment, TA 12-20, has been added to the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Act. If a special event is to occur in the Critical Area Resource Conservation Area the above criteria must be met as well as additional requirements.
The text amendment will prevent special events from occurring within the shore buffer or any expanded buffers and will also limit the amount of events that can be held annually depending on the size of the land.
Nick Kelly, regional program chief of the Critical Area Commission, said because this is a local issue, it should be handled locally. If other surrounding counties begin to face similar problems the text amendment can expand from county-wide and become a Maryland ordinance.
According to Helen Spinelli, the county's lead environmental planner, the text amendment being added to the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Act will be sent to the county commissioners for approval. If they approve the changes they will be sent to the Critical Area Commission for approval, who will send the approved changes back to the county commissioners for a final approval.
If any changes need to be made at any point the whole legislative process will start all over.
Kelly suggested to submit the changes to a Critical Area Commission subcommittee in December to look at the changes in advance to see if changes should be made before it is officially submitted to help speed up the process.
The commission decided to send both text amendments to the county commissioners together once TA 12-20 is approved by the Critical Area Commission.
Both text amendments are being put into place due issues raised by the actions of Richard and Joan Reinheimer, owners of Love Point at Kent Island, a bed-and-breakfast located on a 15-acre property in the Countryside district of Stevensville.